Even though the last few draft classes have been offense-heavy, this year’s draft has more defensive talent than we have seen. From Kavyon Thibodeaux to Nakobe Dean, there are several can’t-miss prospects on the defensive side of the ball. However, one of the most polarizing prospects this year is LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. The consensus is that he has all the tools to be an excellent corner in the league, but others have significant concerns about him.
Below, I’ll dive into Stingley’s strengths, weaknesses, and where I think he should go in the draft.
Derek Stingley’s Background
Derek Stingley Jr. is a cornerback who played college football for three years at Louisiana State University. He is six foot one and weighs 195 pounds. He was a massive part of why the Tigers’ 2019 defense was so dominant, locking down receivers on a game-to-game basis.
Stingley is a gifted athlete. If a ball is thrown three to five yards past him, he can reach up and make about anything happen. Receivers will have a tough time creating separation on him in the NFL due to his excellent tracking skills. Another one of his best attributes is his ability to limit big plays. While he frequently allowed receptions of 10-15 yards, quarterbacks couldn’t connect with receivers deep due to Stingley’s athletic ability.
Stingley’s recovery skills are also awe-inspiring. Typically, when receivers beat corners, they can’t recover quickly, and it ends up resulting in big plays. However, for the LSU product, he can get back in a heartbeat and break up a pass. This skill will be beneficial when going against high-end receivers in the NFL.
While he wasn’t as productive the past two years, Stingley’s freshman season was very impressive. He came into the SEC and forced receivers to have season-worst games.
Although he has all the potential to be a star in the NFL, there are a few concerns about Stingley.
After playing in all 15 games as a freshman in 2019, he has had significant issues staying on the field. In 2020, he only played seven out of ten games in a shortened season. When he was on the field, he was not nearly as productive as in 2019. Stingley was still a solid cornerback, but he didn’t compare to the player he was in 2019.
In 2021, he suffered a foot injury only three games into the season and missed the remainder of the season.
Although Stingley had one of the best college defensive seasons in 2019, his inability to stay on the field is a significant concern. Recently, elite cornerback prospects such as Dee Milliner and Jeff Okudah haven’t worked out in the NFL, mainly due to injury issues.
Other concerns for Stingley are his inconsistencies in zone coverage and slot coverage, but the inability to stay on the field looms larger.
Where Would I Take Him
Over the past few months, opinions on Stingley have ranged from a top-three pick to barely a first-round talent. While spending a top-three selection on Stingley is risky, it’s a high-risk, high-reward situation, and teams should be willing to take him that early. I would take him anywhere from the fifth pick to the tenth pick. In the end, the New York Giants are where I believe he will end up.